2021 NFL Mock Draft: 49ers trade up for Fields, while Jones lands in Washington after CFP final

The 2020 college football season has come to a close with the Alabama Crimson Tide once again on top of the college football world. Bama won an exciting, albeit lopsided, national championship game over Ohio State as Nick Saban claimed his seventh title.

As you might expect, this mock is going to feature a lot of soon-to-be former Tide players and a few Buckeyes as well. I have six Alabama players coming off the board in the first round, including quarterback Mac Jones.

Speaking of quarterbacks, there are six that I could see drafted in the first two rounds at this point. There is still a ton of assessing to be done with the Senior Bowl coming up, hopefully, followed by the NFL scouting combine.

There are two trades that occur in the first round of this mock, both involving quarterbacks.

Cincinnati trades 1.5 and 5.133 to San Francisco for 1.12, 2.43 and a 2022 first-round pick
Detroit trades 1.7 to New England for 1.15, 2.46 and 2022 first-round pick

The draft order is according to Tankathon and updated through the wildcard weekend. Time to dive in!

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1. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15) – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
I know there is some buzz about Urban Meyer landing with the Jaguars and taking Justin Fields. I don’t buy it. Trevor Lawrence is one of the best quarterback prospects of all time. His poise, athleticism and arm strength make him a Day 1 starter. He would give Jacksonville it’s most exciting quarterback situation in franchise history.

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2. New York Jets (2-14) – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
This comes down to Justin Fields vs. Zach Wilson. It’s going to be close. As of right now, I give the edge to Wilson. He has incredible zip on his throws and a lightning quick release. Wilson is a proven runner as well. He will need to take care of his body at the next level, but he looks the part of an NFL quarterback. It is no secret he works hard either. The Jets would find a potential new leader for their offense.

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3. Miami Dolphins via Houston Texans (10-6) – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
There is some buzz about the Dolphins trading this pick back to the Texans in a deal for Deshaun Watson. If that is on the table, Miami should pull the trigger. Otherwise, this team should stand pat and protect Tua. There are plenty of other receivers to take later in this draft. There are not many offensive tackles like Penei Sewell though. He is a polished pass blocker with good functional athleticism and plenty of play strength. He sat out the 2020 season, but he will remind everyone at the combine (assuming it happens) just how talented he is.

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4. Atlanta Falcons (4-12) – Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
While some will advocate for a quarterback here, Matt Ryan likely isn’t going anywhere anytime soon because of his contract. Instead, the Falcons take a talented player at a huge position of need. Drafting Patrick Surtain II gives Atlanta a tandem of young corners to build the defense around. Surtain has great ball skills and an NFL pedigree. Not to mention he brings plenty of big-game experience coming out of Alabama. This defense allowed the most passing yards per game in 2020. Don’t overthink it. Grab a top-end corner and move forward.

5. San Francisco 49ers via Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1) – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
With two of the top four quarterbacks still on the board and Penei Sewell already gone, phones in Cincinnati would be lighting up! The Bengals move down, allowing the 49ers to find their quarterback of the future. Cutting Jimmy Garoppolo saves a ton of cap space. Justin Fields’ ceiling is higher than that of Garoppolo’s too. Fields brings a ton of intangibles to the table with his arm strength and speed. He definitely needs to improve some of his decision making and work on consistently hitting his release. Working with Kyle Shanahan would be a great way to help him reach his full potential.

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6. Philadelphia Eagles (4-11-1) – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
If Patrick Surtain was still here, that would have been the pick. However, it is hard to be mad about landing the top receiver in the class. Ja’Marr Chase is a matchup nightmare with a great blend of size and speed. He dominated the SEC in 2019 before opting out in 2020. He would give whomever the Eagles decide to start at quarterback a clear No. 1 receiver. Philly has been looking to fill that void for a long time.

7. New England Patriots via Detroit Lions (5-11) – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
Detroit has a ton of holes to fill and a new general manager coming in. I think we could see them trade down come April. The Patriots jump up to find a succession plan to Tom Brady, probably a few years too late. Trey Lance is a bit more raw than the other top quarterback prospects, but he has some special physical tools. If he gets a year to get up to speed in the NFL and improve his deep accuracy, he could be a long-term solution at quarterback for years to come. With his effortless arm strength and impressive mobility, the sky is the limit for Lance.

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8. Carolina Panthers (5-11) – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
Sometimes, things just fall into place perfectly. Carolina needs a new linebacker to roam the field and match wits with opposing quarterbacks. Micah Parsons could step in from Day 1 and provide a huge boost to an exciting young defense. He has the prototypical size teams want for modern day linebackers with some added pass rushing potential. Parsons won’t be Luke Keuchley, but he is probably the team’s best option to attempt to fill the void he left when he retired.

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9. Denver Broncos (5-11) – Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Miami
I’m not forgetting about Bradley Chubb or Von Miller, with the latter hopefully coming back from injury at full strength in 2021. Gregorey Rousseau has the potential to take over at one of the defensive end spots though while Miller and Chubb play on the outside. Rousseau is huge at 6’7″ with room to add some muscle to that frame. He looks most comfortable rushing the passer from the interior in the limited tape I’ve watched so far of him at Miami. Denver needs a jolt in its front three. Rousseau has the potential to become a cornerstone player on this defense.

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10. Dallas Cowboys (6-10) – Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
When you allow the most points in franchise history and fire your defensive coordinator after one season, it’s probably a good sign that you need to add some talent to your defense. Caleb Farley is a big, physical corner who can command a spot on the outside for this Cowboys defense. After sitting out the 2020 season, he will get a chance to solidify his draft stock at the combine. Dallas desperately missed Byron Jones this year. While Farley is not a like-for-like fit, he can help fill the void and create an exciting young tandem with Trevon Diggs.

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11. New York Giants (6-10) – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
If you want to rank the Alabama receivers over the past two years, Jaylen Waddle is second on my list behind Jerry Jeudy. Yes, I would take him over DeVonta Smith and Henry Ruggs. While Smith, deservedly, won the Heisman, Waddle was in the conversation this year before he got hurt. He was the go-to player in the offense, amassing 557 receiving yards and four touchdowns in his four games before the injury. Waddle is electric in the open field. I like how he projects to the next level just a bit more than Smith. If the Giants are determined to see Daniel Jones succeed, finding a playmaker like Waddle will make a huge difference.

12. Cincinnati Bengals via San Francisco 49ers (6-10) – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
Slide down seven spots and land an offensive line prospect with tons of potential? Sign every Bengals fan in the world up for that. Probably sign Joe Burrow up for that too. Christian Darrisaw has a bit of developing still to do, but he looks very comfortable playing on the left side of the line. His size and athleticism point to tons of untapped potential. He has room to improve in his footwork and technique, but those are coachable aspects of the game.

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13. Los Angeles Chargers (7-9) – Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas
Protecting Justin Herbert should be the top priority for the Chargers this offseason. For a team that seems to be growing into a potential championship window with a rookie quarterback, finding a franchise tackle to grow with it would be a great fit. Samuel Cosmi’s ceiling might be the highest of any offensive tackle in this draft. At 6’7″, 309 lbs, Cosmi is huge, but he moves like a much smaller man. He looks comfortable pulling, blocking in space and anchoring down on the quarterback’s blind side. He is extremely raw and will need some good coaching to perfect his technique, hand usage and footwork to reach his potential. In two years though, he could be one of the top five tackles in the league. There is some risk though that he ends up being a guard if he cannot develop.

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14. Minnesota Vikings (7-9) – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
Mike Zimmer called this the worst defense he has ever had. Let’s assume they will look to rebuild it then during the 2021 offseason. Jaycee Horn has lockdown corner potential. He is an elite man-to-man corner. South Carolina moved him all over the formation, allowing him to gain some experience in the slot, blitzing off the edge, playing off coverage and playing zone. He should upgrade the secondary right away. This does not mean Minnesota is bailing on Jeff Gladney after a rough rookie season. Adding Horn just creates more depth and potential for a turnaround next season.

15. Detroit Lions via New England Patriots (7-9) – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Cue the “did you even watch the national championship game?” reactions. DeVonta Smith has been the best offensive player in college football this season. The combination of speed, route running and catch radius makes him lethal. Opposing defenses have had no answer. The main concerns are about his size. He has a very slight frame at 175 lbs, which begs questions about his ability to survive in the NFL. He will also face some major better defenses at the next level. After trading down, the Lions can invest in either a replacement for Kenny Golladay or someone to line up across from him in the future.

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16. Arizona Cardinals (8-8) – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
This has become one of my favorite prospect-team pairings in these early mock drafts. Kyle Pitts would thrive in the Cardinals offense. It would hide a number of his shortcomings as a blocker by allowing him to flex out and make plays in space. He would give Kyler Murray a great target over the middle of the field and in the red zone and open up more opportunities for DeAndre Hopkins. The drop off from Hopkins to the next-best receiving option in this offense is steep. Pitts would bridge the gap.

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17. Las Vegas Raiders (8-8) – Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama
Las Vegas’ defense was not what many had hoped for after some signs of progress in 2019. The pass rush regressed and the secondary struggled. Enter Christian Barmore. Fresh off a dominant national championship game, he showcased his talent and potential heading into a potential NFL career. His ability as an interior pass rusher would fill a huge need for the Raiders.

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18. Miami Dolphins (10-6) – Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
Still not a receiver. I will get there, I promise Dolphins fans. Miami got solid production out of Andrew Van Ginkel and Kyle Van Noy, but neither one is irreplaceable. Azeez Ojulari is a polished pass rusher with an array of moves at his disposal to beat opposing offensive tackles. He would provide the Dolphins with a situational rusher who can develop into a long-term starter at outside linebacker in Brian Flores’ defense.

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19. Washington Football Team (7-9) – Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
Taylor Heinicke and Alex Smith are both great stories, but neither projects as the long-term answer at quarterback for Washington. Mac Jones went from being Tua’s backup to the Davey O’Brien winner and Heisman finalist. He is incredibly accurate, looks comfortable in the pocket and has great touch on his deep ball. He might not be as athletic as the four quarterbacks who went before him, but he can use his legs to extend plays while keeping his eyes downfield. He benefited from a great supporting cast, but he deserves some credit for Alabama’s success this year as well.

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20. Chicago Bears (8-8) – Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Allen Robinson seems headed for an exit this offseason. With Jones off the board, there are no quarterbacks worth taking here, so receiver becomes the next position of focus. Rashod Bateman has the size and playmaking skills to make Bears fans feel a little better about likely losing Robinson. He had a bit of an off 2020 season, opting out, then opting back in and opting out again after five games. He has the size to be a possession receiver, but flashes good run after the catch ability too. Expect whoever is Chicago’s quarterback in 2021 to benefit from having him in the offense.

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21. Indianapolis Colts (11-5) – Patrick Jones II, EDGE, Pittsburgh
The Colts defense was one of the best in the league this year against the run, but pretty average against the pass. The best way to disrupt an opponent’s passing attack is to generate pressure. Patrick Jones II excels in that department. He has 17.5 sacks over the past two seasons. He fits the mold of a 4-3 defensive end and would give the Colts a successor to Justin Houston, who turns 32 later this month. Jones is one of my favorite edge rushers in this class and I think this would be a great fit for him.

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22. Tennessee Titans (11-5) – Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
It took me a bit, but I think I have figured out my pro comp for Zaven Collins. Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr. Both are outside linebackers who can hang in pass coverage but make their biggest impact rushing the passer. Collins is a little bit heavier than Barr, but both fit similar size profiles as well. Tennessee desperately needs a playmaker like that. The Titans had just 19 sacks as a team this season. Collins had 4.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss in eight games. He is the type of disruptive force this defense is lacking.

23. New York Jets via Seattle Seahawks (2-14) – Wyatt Davis, G, Ohio State
After grabbing Zach Wilson, protecting him needs to be the priority. Wyatt Davis is the best interior lineman in this class. He has great size and lots of experience after starting for the past two years. He would provide a nice boost to the interior of this Jets offensive line and some much needed run blocking. Joe Douglas spent a lot on the offensive line in free agency without much success. Davis and Mekhi Becton would give the Jets two great building blocks to rely on as they reshape the unit.

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24. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) – Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Did Pittsburgh throw it more than anyone else strictly by design or because they lost faith in the running game? Hard to know which is true, but either way, the Steelers cannot continue to rely on Ben Roethlisberger throwing the ball 50+ times per game. That’s not sustainable. Najee Harris is the top running back in this class and could very well come off the board before this. He is physical, fast and consistent. His blend of quickness and power is pretty impressive. What makes him worthy of a first-round pick is his ability as a pass catcher. Harris caught 65 passes over the past two seasons. A 230-pound back who can get involved in the passing game? That is a special combination.

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25. Jacksonville Jaguars via Los Angeles Rams (1-15) – Liam Eichenburg, OT, Notre Dame
Cam Robinson did not have a great 2020 season and it is time that the Jaguars think about moving on from him at left tackle. Protecting Trevor Lawrence is going to be a big priority. Liam Eichenburg is one of the most pro ready tackles in this class. He is incredibly polished and technically sound. His upside is limited by a lack of speed, but he can be the anchor on the left side of the line.

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26. Cleveland Browns (11-5) – Jeremiah Owusu-Komaroah, LB, Notre Dame
Cleveland’s postseason run is going to continue for a little bit longer, but it is clear where they could use some help on defense. With no clear secondary pick here, the Browns can grab a high-upside linebacker. Jeremiah Owusu-Komaroah is a fantastic cover player with sideline-to-sideline ability. Given the Browns struggles in pass coverage this season, this would be a useful addition to the defense.

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27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) – Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
Tampa Bay is in win-now mode with Tom Brady, but they can afford to go with a raw, high-upside edge rusher as they continue to build depth on defense. Kwity Paye has all the physical tools you hope for in an edge rusher at 6’4″ and roughly 270 lbs. He didn’t produce much at Michigan with just 11.5 sacks in 28 career games. However, teams will be betting they can help unlock his potential and turn him into a physically dominant edge rusher.

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28. Baltimore Ravens (11-5) – Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma
Another prospect and team pairing that I really like, Baltimore’s offensive line has not been the dominant unit we have become accustomed to watching in recent years. Ronnie Stanley went down after just seven games. Matt Skura had issues snapping the ball at times this season. Plugging in a pro-ready option like Creed Humphrey at center would be a great move for Baltimore. Humphrey has plenty of experience blocking for mobile quarterbacks, playing with Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Blocking for Lamar Jackson should be a seamless transition.

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29. New Orleans Saints (12-4) – Chazz Surratt, LB, UNC
The Saints are in for a big offseason as the team figures out its direction after Drew Brees’ career ends. New Orleans has been searching for linebacking help for years now. Finding a high-character and dynamic leader like Chazz Surratt at the end of the first round would be a great addition. Surratt is a former quarterback who is still learning the position. However, he has thrived under Mack Brown over the past two seasons starting for UNC. He could take over for Demario Davis, who just turned 32, when he decides to retire.

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30. Buffalo Bills (13-3) – Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
Another great fit for both prospect and team here. Buffalo could use an upgrade at tight end. What makes this such a great fit is Pat Freiermuth’s ability as both a blocker and inline receiver. He is not the same type of receiving threat as someone like Kyle Pitts, but he is a well-rounded player that fills a huge need. Giving Josh Allen an elite tight end to work with is only going to elevate his game further.

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31. Green Bay Packers (13-3) – Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
There is a time and place to grab a receiver, but that is probably later in the draft. Green Bay has David Bahktiari locked up for a while, but he suffered a major injury and Bryan Bulaga left last offseason. Suddenly, this once stout offensive line is starting to deteriorate. Letting Rashawn Slater start his career at right tackle could be great for his development. He has a long way to go when it comes to hand usage and has some flaws in his pass blocking technique, but he shows flashes of being a punishing blocker. Investing in protecting Aaron Rodgers, or eventually Jordan Love, is a good plan.

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32. Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) – Trey Smith, OL, Tennessee
Kansas City has not looked quite as sharp over the final few weeks of the season. Part of that has been inconsistent offensive line play. Andrew Wylie has struggled and could be in danger of being replaced in 2021. Trey Smith is a physical specimen at 6’6″, 330 lbs. He started his career at tackle before kicking inside to guard. He played really well for Tennessee in 2020 and could be in line to start on Day 1. Worst-case scenario, he provides some crucial depth for the defending champs at either guard or tackle spot.

33. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15) – Carlos Basham Jr., DL, Wake Forest
With two exciting edge rushers in Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson, Jacksonville could use an upgrade along the inside of the defensive line. Carlos Basham Jr. is a bit of a tweener, playing snaps at defensive end and defensive tackle. That versatility would be valuable to a Jaguars defense that was one of the worst in football this past year.

34. New York Jets (2-14) – Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Texas
New York is in desperate need of some edge rushing help. Ranking in the bottom third in sacks for what feels like the 10th year in a row has to end at some point for the Jets to turn things around. Joseph Ossai is an intriguing prospect, having played more of an off-ball linebacker role prior to the 2020 season. However, he showed enough promise as an edge rusher for the Jets to add him here.

35. Atlanta Falcons (4-12) – Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
Atlanta continues its search for an edge rusher. After spending several premium picks and some cap space in recent years, this could be the end of the line. Jaelan Phillips flashed tons of speed and potential to produce at the NFL level in his one year at Miami. The Falcons would be banking on that being a sign of things to come and not a one season wonder.

36. Miami Dolphins via Houston Texans (10-6) – Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
Miami finally grabs the receiver fans have been waiting for. Chris Olave made a huge impact on this Ohio State offense this year. He has good size to compete for pass downfield and has shown flashes of high-level route runner. He might need to bulk up a little bit to survive in the NFL.

37. Philadelphia Eagles (4-11-1) – Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse
The direction of this Eagles defense is in flux with Doug Pederson fired and Jim Schwartz taking a year away from football. There is no question that the pass defense needs a boost though. Andre Cisco is a centerfield safety with great ball skills. He had 12 interceptions in his first two seasons before slogging through an injury-riddled 2020. He would help Philly deal with the big plays that plagued the secondary all season long.

38. Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1) – Daviyon Nixon, DL, Iowa
Carlos Dunlap is gone. Geno Atkins turns 33 in March. Cincinnati could use an infusion of talent along the defensive line. Daviyon Nixon flashed enough upside that the Bengals would be happy to land him in the second round. He moves incredibly well at 305 pounds, but there is room for improvement when it comes to his technique. If he can get that final layer of polish, he could be a force along the interior of the defense.

39. Carolina Panthers (5-11) – Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
Is Teddy Bridgewater the long-term answer at quarterback? It is unclear at this point. Matt Rhule would likely be excited to work with a polished passer like Kyle Trask. He has great accuracy and anticipation. However, he really lacks mobility and does not have the biggest arm. He could be a bit of a project behind Bridgewater.

40. Denver Broncos (6-10) – Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
Alex Leatherwood has played every position along the offensive line, other than center, in his time at Alabama. In this scenario, I envision him potentially taking over at right tackle after not seeing Ja’Wuan James play much in the past two years. His ability to play left tackle is important too if Garrett Bolles regresses.

41. Detroit Lions (6-10) – Joe Tryon, EDGE, Washington
For a few years, Detroit has been searching for an edge rusher. Joe Tryon has above average play strength and a solid set of pass rushing moves. We didn’t get to see him in 2020 because he opted out, but he has room for improvement and the size to play as a 4-3 end or a 3-4 outside linebacker.

42. New York Giants (6-10) – Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami
The Giants will be disappointed to see Tryon off the board, but Quincy Roche is a nice consolation prize. He did not put up the same eye-popping numbers he did during his time at Temple, but his one year in Miami was productive. New York’s defense made huge strides in 2020 under Patrick Graham, but needs some more pass rushing help to take the next step.

43. Cincinnati Bengals via San Francisco 49ers (6-10) – Alijah Vera-Tucker, G, USC
If the Bengals spent every pick in this draft on the offensive line, I don’t think anyone would fault them. That’s probably unnecessary, but investing another premium pick on an offensive lineman is smart roster building here. Alijah Vera-Tucker brings some experience at both guard and tackle. He is a developing player that should make Joe Burrow’s life better when he returns from injury.

44. Dallas Cowboys (6-10) – Jevon Holland, DB, Oregon
Dallas’ defense is headed for something of a major rebuild. With a ton of question marks in the secondary, finding a player who can play in multiple roles carries a lot of value. Jevon Holland is disruptive and can line up at either safety spot or play in the slot. The Cowboys just need to find talented players to turn this defense around.

45. Jacksonville Jaguars via Minnesota Vikings (1-15) – Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami
Jacksonville is in desperate need of an upgrade at tight end. Brevin Jordan has not had the fanfare that Kyle Pitts and Pat Freiermuth have, but he plays the position well. He does a lot of the little things right and would give Trevor Lawrence a strong target across the middle.

46. Detroit Lions via New England Patriots (7-9) – Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
The backend of Detroit’s defense needs a lot of work. Trevon Moehrig is a reliable safety option with plenty of range to make plays. He was one of the best players on a solid TCU defense. His biggest area for improvement is keeping proper positioning. Moehrig got burned deep a few times in 2020.

47. Los Angeles Chargers (7-9) – Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida
The Chargers might not bring back Mike Williams. Even if they do, there is room for another playmaker on this squad. Kadarius Toney looked incredible as part of Florida’s offensive resurgence this season. He is dynamic in the open field and great at making plays with the ball in his hands. Toney could be uber productive playing with Justin Herbert.

48. Las Vegas Raiders (8-8) – Eric Stokes, CB, Georgia
Keep rebuilding this defense. The Raiders have swung and missed on a lot of corners in recent years, but Eric Stokes could help steady the unit a bit. He has impeccable speed and solid coverage skills. Stokes showed some signs of being a real difference maker with four interceptions in 2020. His stock could rise a lot if he posts a ridiculous time at the combine.

49. Arizona Cardinals (8-8) – Marvin Wilson, DL, Florida State
Marvin Wilson was a potential first-round selection a year ago, but did not have a great senior year after returning to Tallahassee. I think Wilson could bounce back with some better coaching. There was a lot of animosity at Florida State this offseason and it seemed like Wilson’s heart was not in it this year. If he can reclaim his 2019 form, this would be a steal for a Cardinals team in need of some help along the defensive line.

50. Miami Dolphins (10-6) – Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
I have Travis Etienne ranked at No. 14 on my big board, so don’t go thinking I hate Etienne. However, NFL teams are continuing to devalue this position to the point where only one running back was selected last year in the first round. This is a great fit for the Clemson running back, who would join an exciting offense. His big-play ability could easily see him go sooner than this.

51. Washington (7-9) – Sage Surratt, WR, Wake Forest
Assuming that Washington does opt for Mac Jones, they are going to need to give him some receivers other than Terry McLaurin to throw to. Sage Surratt sat out the 2020 season, but he was last seen torching secondaries in the ACC. He is a big-play threat with great size and ball skills.

52. Chicago Bears (8-8) – Landon Dickerson, C, Alabama
We won’t get to see Landon Dickerson workout at the Senior Bowl or combine this year because he suffered a season-ending injury in the SEC title game. He made a brief cameo at the end of Alabama’s championship win, but he might not be ready for the upcoming season. Once he is back to full health though, he could be a steady starter for the Bears. This offense would look a lot better with an improved line and some additional playmakers.

53. Tennessee Titans (11-5) – Jay Tufele, DL, USC
This mostly projecting how Jay Tufele could develop as a prospect. He flashed some interior pass rushing ability in his first two seasons before opting out of the 2020 season. The Titans will take pass rushing help however they can get it at this point.

54. Indianapolis Colts (11-5) – Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU
T.Y. Hilton had a strong second half and Michael Pittman Jr. showed flashes of his potential to be a No. 1 receiver, but Indy needs more receiving options. Parris Campbell has yet to make an impact and Zach Pascal is better off providing depth. Terrace Marshall got overshadowed by Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase last year, but he made some big plays for a much worse LSU offense this year.

55. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) – Dillon Radunz, OT, North Dakota State
Pittsburgh’s offensive line struggled a lot between injuries and poor play all season. Dillon Radunz is a bit of an unknown coming out of North Dakota State, but he has some great physical tools and dominated the FCS. He could compete for either tackle spot from Day 1.

56. Seattle Seahawks (11-5) – Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
There is no question the Seahawks need an edge rusher, but Russell Wilson also needs time to make plays. Saturday’s loss to the Rams should underline how much the offensive line needs an upgrade. Jalen Mayfield held down the right side of the line for Michigan. He should do the same thing for Seattle, replacing Brandon Shell.

57. Los Angeles Rams (10-6) – Cade Mays, OT, Tennessee
Andrew Whitworth cannot play forever and Jared Goff is not mobile enough to compensate for a bad offensive line. Cade Mays, like his teammate Trey Smith, has featured mostly at guard, but has the size to play at tackle. He has played at every position at some point in his college career at Georgia and Tennessee. His versatility would be hugely valuable even if he does not start right away.

58. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-5) – Jaylen Twyman, DL, Pittsburgh
Building depth along the front seven is pretty much the only clear need this team has, pending any losses in free agency. Jalen Twyman was a disruptive force in 2019 for Pittsburgh. He racked up 10.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss in a dominant season. He will need to measure in well at the combine to answer some questions about his size, but he could provide some pass rushing depth right away.

59. Baltimore Ravens (11-5) – Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, USC
There is no question the Ravens need another receiver to add to this offense. Amon-Ra St. Brown has the agility and route tree to fit well as a possession receiver in this offense. He can get open in small spaces and has shown the ability to stretch the field as well.

60. Cleveland Browns (11-5) – Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina
I’m not totally sure where Israel Mukuamu fits at the next level. He has played both safety and outside corner in his time at South Carolina. He is huge at 6’4″ and shows flashes of being a lockdown corner. He is a step slow in the speed department, but his versatility would be extremely useful for a Browns secondary that has struggled to keep players healthy.

61. New Orleans Saints (12-4) – Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
Ronadale Moore has looked like a human joystick when at full strength. That type of playmaking could be a huge boost to the Saints offense. It is not totally clear what this team will look like without Drew Brees, but New Orleans has needed a long-term solution across from Michael Thomas for a few years. Moore could be a top candidate if his medicals check out.

62. Buffalo Bills (13-3) – Chris Rumph II, EDGE, Duke
Buffalo’s defense took a step back in 2020 after a dominant 2019 season. The Bills can look to reclaim their 2019 form with a couple of fresh faces in the front seven. Chris Rumph II had a great career with Duke, posting 14.5 sacks and 25 tackles for loss over his final two seasons.

63. Green Bay Packers (13-3) – Seth Williams, WR, Auburn
Seth Williams’ skill set is a bit more limited than some of the receivers that have gone before him, but what he does, he does very well. He has the size at 6’3″ to make plays down the field in traffic. Most importantly, he has good hands, which is something Green Bay desperately needs. The Packers had one of the highest drop percentages in the league this year.

64. Kansas City Chiefs (14-2) – Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
Kansas City can stay close to home with this pick. Nick Bolton was a huge factor in Missouri’s surprising season. He was one of the leaders of the Mizzou defense and made some impact plays with eight tackles for loss this season. Bolton would compete for a starting spot on a defense in need of some improvement in the linebacking corp.

2020 NFL Power Rankings: Week 16

The unimaginable happened in Week 15. The Jets won a football game and this time they didn’t blow it in the final seconds either. Of course, there have been tons of jokes about New York not even being able to tank right, but I am happy to see the team avoid an 0-16 finish. I will talk more about that in the Jets’ section.

In other news, the Steelers inexplicably lost a third straight game, this time to the Bengals starting Ryan Finley at quarterback. Drew Brees looked like a man that has not played football in close to a month in his return from injury as the Saints lost their second straight game. Elsewhere, the Bears climbed back into the postseason picture and the NFC East continues to get more interesting. This is where I see each team following 15 weeks of action.

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1. Kansas City Chiefs: 13-1 (Last Week: 1)
Won 32-29 at New Orleans
Kansas City continues to weather the regular-season storm. New Orleans kept things close early, but Patrick Mahomes and company stepped up in the second half to close it out. Unfortunately, the Chiefs likely lost Clyde Edwards-Helaire for the rest of the regular season and possibly longer. On the bright side, winning either of their final two games will lock up the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

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2. Green Bay Packers: 11-3 (Last Week: 2)
Won 24-16 vs. Carolina
It wasn’t the prettiest win the Packers have ever had, but they got the job done and extended their lead over the rest of the NFC. Aaron Jones rumbled for 145 yards and a touchdown in the win. Green Bay needs to play a bit more evenly after several offensive lulls in this contest. That won’t fly in the playoffs.

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3. Buffalo Bills: 11-3 (Last Week: 3)
Won 48-19 at Denver
Buffalo beat the doors off Denver behind another masterful performance from Josh Allen. He got plenty of help with 149 yards from the duo of Devin Singletary and Zack Moss. The Bills defense also continued its late-season resurgence with its second defensive touchdown in as many weeks. This version of the Bills is going to be really tough to beat in the playoffs.

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4. New Orleans Saints: 10-4 (Last Week: 4)
Lost 32-29 vs. Kansas City
Drew Brees looked very rusty in his return from injury. He completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes and threw a costly interception in the loss. It was not a great game from the Saints defense either, save a strip sack of Patrick Mahomes. Hopes of winning the NFC have pretty much vanished. New Orleans needs to right the ship over the next two weeks to build some momentum for the postseason.

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5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 9-5 (Last Week: 7)
Won 31-27 at Atlanta
It was a slow start from the Buccaneers, but Tom Brady got the best of the Falcons when it mattered once again. He aired it out for 390 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The offense certainly missed the presence of Ronald Jones. However, it is the defense that had the most concerning performance. Matt Ryan finished with over 350 yards and three touchdowns. After a strong start, the Bucs are 3-3 in their last six and could use a jolt heading into the final stretch.

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6. Miami Dolphins: 9-5 (Last Week: 8)
Won 22-12 vs. New England
Miami officially put New England in its rearview mirror, at least for 2020. The Dolphins ended the Patriots’ 12-year postseason streak with a strong ground game and some stingy defense. It was another lackluster game from Tua Tagovailoa passing the ball, but he punched in two rushing touchdowns to earn the victory. With DeVante Parker and Myles Gaskin potentially returning soon, the offense should get a much-need jolt.

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7. Seattle Seahawks: 10-4 (Last Week: 9)
Won 20-15 at Washington
The Seahawks ground out a crucial victory to reclaim the lead in the NFC West. Washington’s defense posed a number of issues, holding Russell Wilson to 121 yards passing and just one touchdown. Seattle’s defense pulled through with four sacks and a pair of interceptions. It was a gritty win, the type the Seahawks will likely need to pull off at least once in the postseason.

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8. Baltimore Ravens: 9-5 (Last Week: 10)
Won 40-14 vs. Jacksonville
Lighting up the Jaguars is hardly difficult these days, but it is still promising to see this offense continuing to click. Lamar Jackson put together another big performance, this time through the air as well as on the ground. Defensively, Baltimore stuffed James Robinson. He managed just 2.2 yards per carry. Gardner Minshew might have had two touchdowns, but it was too late to matter. The Ravens were in control throughout this one.

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9. Cleveland Browns: 10-4 (Last Week: 12)
Won 20-6 at New York
After weeks of taking a backseat, it was the Browns defense who got top billing in this one. Cleveland kept New York out of the end zone, limiting its scoring to a pair of field goals. The Browns played a lot of bend but don’t break possessions, allowing the Giants to drive into the red zone, but coming up with huge stops when Joe Judge decided to go for it on fourth down. There is still plenty of room for the defense to improve, but they deserve credit for how they handled this game.

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10. Tennessee Titans: 10-4 (Last Week: 13)
Won 46-25 vs. Detroit
Don’t look now, but the Titans are picking up steam. After getting shelled in the first half of its Week 13 game against Cleveland, Tennessee has outscored its opponents 105-41 over the past 10 quarters of play. Ryan Tannehill is spreading the ball around and Derrick Henry is tossing defenders across the field. If the Titans can rediscover their pass rush, this team could be poised for another deep postseason run.

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11. Indianapolis Colts: 10-4 (Last Week: 11)
Won 27-20 vs. Houston
For the second time in three weeks, the Colts stymied the Texans at the goal line with a timely fumble recovery to preserve a victory. It was far from Indianapolis’ best defensive game as it gave up 373 passing yards to Deshaun Watson. However, it made the big play when it mattered and kept pace with the Titans in the AFC South.

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12. Pittsburgh Steelers: 11-3 (Last Week: 5)
Lost 27-17 at Cincinnati
Now the sky is falling in Pittsburgh. This team has completely forgotten how to run its offense. Ben Roethlisberger is missing open receivers, players are not on the same page and these mistakes are putting the defense in impossible situations. All of Cincinnati’s first-half points came off turnovers. Mike Tomlin needs to get this team back to basics, and fast. The Steelers are in danger of blowing the division lead.

13. Los Angeles Rams: 9-5 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 24-21 vs. New York
I still don’t know what happened. If this was not the most embarrassing loss in franchise history, it has to be close to the top. New York was fresh off a 40-3 beatdown against Seattle. Los Angeles didn’t even have to travel! As has been the issue all season, the offense was out of rhythm and that cost the Rams a winnable game. L.A. is now facing a potential road playoff game.

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14. Arizona Cardinals: 8-6 (Last Week: 14)
Won 33-26 vs. Philadelphia
In one of the most exciting games of the weekend, Kyler Murray outdueled the man who followed him at Oklahoma. The Cardinals’ defense made life difficult on Jalen Hurts though with six sacks, bringing their total over the past two weeks up to 14! On offense, it was one of Murray’s best games of his young NFL career. He finished with 406 passing yards and four total touchdowns. He has still not looked quite the same running the ball since he suffered that shoulder injury, but this was a big win for the Cardinals as they continue to fight for the NFC’s final wildcard spot.

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15. Chicago Bears: 7-7 (Last Week 23)
Won 33-27 at Minnesota
After looking like they were dead in the water, the Bears have roared back into the playoff chase, sitting one game back of the Cardinals. Mitchell Trubisky continues to show signs of his 2018-level of play while David Montgomery is quietly having one of the best second halves of any running back in the league. This team seems to have found its footing at the right time.

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16. Washington: 6-8 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 20-15 vs. Seattle
Washington holds onto its lead in the NFC East, but that cushion shrunk as the Cowboys are now just one game back in the division as well. Dwayne Haskins’ continued ball-security problems showed up again with two more interceptions. In a five-point game where the defense limits one of the best quarterbacks in the league to just 121 passing yards, those are back-breaking mistakes. Now, Haskins’ status for Week 16 is in doubt due to some off-the-field issues with Washington’s season hanging in the balance.

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17. Dallas Cowboys: 5-9 (Last Week: 25)
Won 41-33 vs. San Francisco
Could the Cowboys really run the table? Dallas picked up another win, this time without Ezekiel Elliott. The defense is still one of the worst, if not the worst in the league, but it has been opportunistic. Two forced fumbles gave the offense a big boost. CeeDee Lamb’s return touchdown on the onsides kick sealed it. Dallas is winning the turnover battle and making plays on special teams. That is a recipe for success.

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18. San Francisco 49ers: 5-9 (Last Week: 17)
Lost 41-33 at Dallas
Another tough loss for the short-handed 49ers eliminates them from postseason contention. No team has had to adapt more in 2020 than San Francisco, who is now playing home games in Arizona. This team is not going to need a rebuild as much as it needs a refresh and to get healthy. A new quarterback and a few extra pieces on defense could get the Niners back in Super Bowl contention.

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19. Minnesota Vikings: 6-8 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 33-27 vs. Chicago
Minnesota’s playoff hopes took another massive blow. The defense could not slow down David Montgomery, who racked up 146 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Kirk Cousins played well enough, but once again, the Vikings came up short. They are still in contention for the final wildcard spot, but the path looks extremely unlikely at this stage.

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20. Philadelphia Eagles: 4-9-1 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 33-26 at Arizona
The Jalen Hurts show went on the road and nearly picked up a crucial win. Unfortunately, the offensive line fell apart and Hurts was sacked six times in the contest. Meanwhile, the Eagles stay alive in the division race with a Washington loss. Philly now needs to win out to reach the playoffs. With games against Washington and Dallas coming up, the NFC East is going to go down to the wire. Of every team in the division, the Eagles somehow seem to have the best quarterback situation all of a sudden.

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21. New England Patriots: 6-8 (Last Week: 16)
Lost 22-12 at Miami
It is time for the Patriots to take a long look in the mirror. After years of lording over the NFL, New England has quickly sunk to mediocre. Now, the team will get reinforcements with players returning from opt outs in 2021, but this roster desperately needs to be turned over. It will start with figuring out a new direction at quarterback. Cam Newton continues to show he is not “the guy,” and it seems like the organization is not trusting Jarrett Stidham. A big offseason awaits the Pats.

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22. New York Giants: 5-9 (Last Week: 19)
Lost 20-6 at Cleveland
Colt McCoy couldn’t work his magic to pull off another stunning upset. You have to give Joe Judge credit for playing to win and stay aggressive throughout the game. Unfortunately, this is a young Giants team struggling to compete with tons of injuries at key positions. Not to mention, the team lost a pair of coaches and their star corner this week before playing. New York’s postseason hopes look rather bleak though with a trip to Baltimore up next.

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23. Carolina Panthers: 4-10 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 24-16 at Green Bay
Carolina did its best to slow down Aaron Rodgers. It forgot to plan for the other Aaron though. Aaron Jones gashed the Panthers defense for 145 yards and a score. This team is still rebuilding, which became even more evident on Monday when general manager Marty Hurney was fired. As the Panthers head for a top-five pick, it will be interesting to see if this team decides to take a young quarterback to take over, or will the front office build around Teddy Bridgewater. Carolina is an interesting team to watch this offseason.

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24. Las Vegas Raiders: 7-7 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 30-27 vs. Los Angeles
Don’t let the record fool you, the Raiders are terrible right now. Las Vegas has now lost four of five, and the one game they did win in that stretch came on a Hail Mary against the Jets. It is clear that this defense is not talented enough to compete. The Raiders will need to invest some serious resources to rebuild it this offseason and potentially search for a new quarterback.

25. Los Angeles Chargers: 5-9 (Last Week: 28)
Won 30-27 at Las Vegas
Make that back-to-back wins for the Chargers, who continue to show grit following their 45-0 drubbing against the Patriots. Despite the improved play of late, Anthony Lynn’s job should still be under scrutiny. Los Angeles seems to have its quarterback of the future on the roster and a solid young group around him. The team’s leadership needs to be sure Lynn is who they want to head into the future with. This offseason would be the time to make the change if there are any doubts within that organization.

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26. Houston Texans: 4-10 (Last Week: 26)
Lost 27-20 at Indianapolis
Another close divisional loss sinks the Texans lower and lower into the misery that is their future. This team has a few talented players and one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. However, it doesn’t have a permanent coach or general manager and has very little draft capital to rebuild a talent-deprived roster. It is a long road ahead for the Texans.

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27. Denver Broncos: 5-9 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 48-19 vs. Buffalo
Drew Lock’s play of late is raising more questions than it answers. After a strong performance in Week 14, he regressed again, managing a pedestrian 4.1 yards per attempt as he finished with just 132 passing yards. That doesn’t even account for the strip sack returned for a Bills’ touchdown. Lock got very little help from his defense though, as Denver let Josh Allen do whatever he wanted to. While it might be tempting to tear it down and star over, there are a lot more holes on this roster.

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28. Detroit Lions: 5-9 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 46-25 at Tennessee
Another week, another dismal defensive performance. Lions defenders are out here getting tossed around the field by Derrick Henry and letting Ryan Tannehill spout off for a nearly perfect day passing the ball. In yet another lost season for Detroit, this team is now officially back to square one. There are questions about Matt Stafford’s durability and the team is once again looking for a new coach. There is a reason why this franchise has not won a playoff game since 1991.

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29. Atlanta Falcons: 4-10 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 31-27 vs. Tampa Bay
2020 has been a really hard year for everyone for some really serious, real-world reasons. If you want to focus on sports though, no one has had it worst than fans in Atlanta. Between the Braves 3-1 collapse and the Falcons blowing at least one three-score lead per month, it has been brutal supporting the local teams. On the bright side, Matt Ryan looked much better. Unfortunately, the team is trending toward a top-five pick with more questions than it has answers.

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30. Cincinnati Bengals: 3-10-1 (Last Week: 30)
Won 27-17 vs. Pittsburgh
Bengals fans rejoice! Your team knocked off the Steelers and kept your hold on the No. 3 pick in the draft! Cincinnati played its best defensive game of the year, frustrating Pittsburgh’s offense all night long. It was opportunistic and made some clutch plays to secure a very exciting victory. These final few games will be great for the front office to continue to evaluate the roster while planning for its future with Joe Burrow.

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31. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-13 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 40-14 at Baltimore
Congratulations Jaguars fans! Your team is now two losses away from landing Trevor Lawrence! With Jacksonville losing it’s 13th straight game and the Jets somehow knocking off the Rams, the Jags are in line to land the first overall pick. It hasn’t really been a fun season, but the outlook for the team under a new general manager with the best quarterback prospect to come out since Andrew Luck is incredibly exciting.

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32. New York Jets: 1-13 (Last Week: 32)
Won 24-21 at Los Angeles
This was easily the most disappointed I’ve ever been after a Jets win in my life. I am thrilled the team will not finish 0-16. I really wanted them to avoid making that type of history. However, it is bittersweet, because I know how much of a difference Trevor Lawrence could make to this franchise. However, this could also open up a world of possibilities for the offseason. What the Jets decide to do with the No. 2 pick will be one of the biggest talking points of the offseason. For the next two weeks though, I will be rooting for the Bears and the Colts to slip up big time against the Jaguars and open the door for the Jets to reclaim the top spot in the draft.

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2020 NFL Power Rankings: Week 15

For the second time this year, I am going to use this space to encourage everyone reading to vote. And this time, it is for something far less important.

Voting for the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl closes on Thursday. I still do not really understand why the league closes voting with three weeks left to play in the season, but that’s a different argument to make.

We are given the power to help decide who reaches the NFL’s All-Star game! Granted, there is no football game being played this year, but a Pro Bowl appearance makes a huge difference in players’ careers. Often times when players are being considered for the Hall of Fame, voters will look at how many Pro Bowl appearances they made during their NFL career. Some players have specific bonuses and salary elevators attached to Pro Bowl appearances.

You can cast your votes at https://www.nfl.com/pro-bowl/ballot/. Have some fun shaping the future of the NFL and rewarding these players with some well-earned recognition!

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1. Kansas City Chiefs: 12-1 (Last Week: 1)
Won 33-27 at Miami
It was far from Patrick Mahomes’ best game as a pro, but the Chiefs ground out a tough victory over the Dolphins. After a rocky start, Kansas City’s defense stood strong. As a unit, it sacked Tua Tagovailoa four times and held Miami to just 3.3 yards per carry. Mahomes, despite his three interceptions, did finish with close to 400 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns. If there is one concern surrounding this team right now, it is the ground game. Clyde Edwards-Helaire averaged just two yards per carry throughout the game. As they get deeper into the season and play in some bad weather games, establishing the run is going to become important.

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2. Green Bay Packers: 10-3 (Last Week: 4)
Won 31-24 at Detroit
If the Packers drafted Jordan Love for the purpose of firing up Aaron Rodgers, mission accomplished. Rodgers leads the league in passing touchdowns and has just four interceptions so far this season. This is supposedly without much of a supporting cast. At least that was the chatter about Green Bay all offseason. Rodgers needed another receiver other than Davante Adams to rely on. Turns out, he has plenty of other options to work with, namely Robert Tonyan and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. With the Saints losing this weekend, the Packers are now in line to earn a first-round bye. They have no margin for error right now, but hold the tiebreaker over the Saints.

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3. Buffalo Bills: 10-3 (Last Week: 5)
Won 26-15 vs. Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh has been struggling of late, but this is a huge win for Buffalo. The Bills won the AFC East for the first time since 1995 (good year, by the way). So yes, huge. What might be more significant though was the resurgence of Buffalo’s defense. Leslie Frazier’s unit held the Steelers under 250 yards of offense and gave up just two scoring drives all game. It also scored a touchdown of its own when Taron Johnson returned an interception 51 yards to the end zone. Ugly as it might have been at times, winning is all that really matters this time of year and the Bills did so in convincing fashion.

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4. New Orleans Saints: 10-3 (Last Week: 2)
Lost 24-21 at Philadelphia
New Orleans was in the driver seat to take the top spot in NFC heading into the weekend. Dropping a crucial game to a rookie quarterback making his first start in the NFL is a problem. The Saints’ defense had no answer for the Eagles’ rushing attack. After 55 straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher, both Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders went over the century mark. This is a major red flag for the defense and an indictment of the offense. Philly’s defense has struggled all year and was missing multiple starters in the secondary. A late touchdown made the score line look more respectable, but the Saints need to step it up down the stretch.

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5. Pittsburgh Steelers: 11-2 (Last Week: 3)
Lost 26-15 at Buffalo
The sky isn’t falling in Pittsburgh, but things are not looking good. Ben Roethlisberger and this whole offense is struggling. The Steelers were unable to crack 250 yards of offense against. I talked about it last week in these rankings as well, this Bills’ defense is not as good as it was last season. Roethlisberger threw two interceptions, including a pick-six. This loss costs Pittsburgh control of the AFC. The Steelers now need the Chiefs to drop a game to have any shot at earning the No. 1 seed in the conference and the first-round bye that comes with it. At this point though, Mike Tomlin just need to rework the approach across the board. Pittsburgh had a great start to the year, but that means nothing if the team collapses down the stretch, there are going to be some serious questions asked in the offseason.

6. Los Angeles Rams: 9-4 (Last Week: 8)
Won 24-3 vs. New England
Los Angeles’ defense is for real. Led by Aaron Donald, the Rams accounted for six sacks and chased Cam Newton from the game. The Patriots finished with 220 yards of offense. Los Angeles now leads the lead in yards allowed per game. The Rams also rank third in sacks and scoring defense. Another huge talking point here has to be Cam Akers’ breakout game. The rookie from Florida State accounted for 194 yards from scrimmage, most of it coming on the ground. Jared Goff didn’t really do much and had an interception, but all he needs to be is average if the Rams can run the ball like this and the defense keeps playing lights out.

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7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 8-5 (Last Week: 6)
Won 26-14 vs. Minnesota
Tampa Bay got a bit of a boost from Dan Bailey missing four different kicks, but this was a complete victory. The defense racked up six sacks and while the offensive line kept Tom Brady clean. Brady, in turn, took care of the football, even if the passing game was not as potent as we have seen it this season. 13 games into the season, it still feels like this Buccaneers team is trying to get on the same page. On paper, they are one of the most talented teams in the league. They just haven’t shown it on a consistent basis.

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8. Miami Dolphins: 8-5 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 33-27 vs. Kansas City
The door is opening for Brian Flores to steal the Coach of the Year award with Pittsburgh slipping in recent weeks. Despite the Dolphins ultimately losing, Miami pressed Kansas City and made life very difficult on Patrick Mahomes. The defense continues to excel this season, even against top-end competition. Tua Tagovailoa is slowly improving. He still makes the mistakes you would expect of an inexperienced quarterback. When you consider how well he performed without any of his top three running backs, the Dolphins can feel good about how close they were. At full strength, it seems like Miami could be very dangerous in the playoffs.

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9. Seattle Seahawks: 9-4 (Last Week: 9)
Won 40-3 vs. New York
Looking for the cure to losing to an NFC East team at home. The Seahawks found it in the form of the team that shares a stadium with the side that handed them their worst loss of the season. Playing the Jets just makes everyone look better (except the Raiders). Russell Wilson had four touchdown passes and the Seahawks rumbled for 175 yards on the ground. Defensively, Seattle had three sacks and held the Jets to just 185 yards of offense. Geno Smith even got some playing time. It does not erase the issues that showed up the week before, but a 37-point win makes it a bit easier to swallow.

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10. Baltimore Ravens: 8-5 (Last Week: 13)
Won 47-42 at Cleveland
While he might not totally be back in his 2019 form, Lamar Jackson is starting to show shades of the play that made him the league’s MVP. He racked up a Monday Night Football record 124 rushing yards and looked electric in the open field. It was the second straight week where the Ravens’ running game looked nearly unstoppable. Now, the defense might need to pull itself together after surrendering 42 points, but it sure seems like Baltimore is headed in the right direction again.

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11. Indianapolis Colts: 9-4 (Last Week: 11)
Won 44-27 at Las Vegas
I think it is safe to say that Jonathan Taylor is finally healthy again. Indianapolis’ rookie running back rumbled for 150 yards and two touchdowns, including a 62-yard scamper. T.Y. Hilton continues his revival as well. He hauled in two more scores and clearly seems to be clicking with Philip Rivers right now. The secondary struggled again, giving up 345 yards through the air, but did intercept Derek Carr twice. The Colts are tricky to figure out, but right now this simply feels like a good, but not great team.

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12. Cleveland Browns: 9-4 (Last Week: 10)
Lost 47-42 vs. Baltimore
It was a loss, but Cleveland proved a lot to the rest of the NFL with this performance. The Browns hung 42 points and pushed the Ravens to the brink on Monday Night Football. Unfortunately, their defense decided to get a head start on the holiday break. The Browns defense surrendered 231 yards on the ground and gave up some big passing plays down the stretch that ultimately cost them. That was also with Lamar Jackson missing almost an entire quarter of action. This is a huge improvement from the 38-6 drubbing they took in Week 1 though and a sign the Browns are a playoff-caliber team.

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13. Tennessee Titans: 9-4 (Last Week: 12)
Won 31-10 at Jacksonville
Tennessee did not let their debacle in Cleveland carry over to their matchup with Jacksonville. The Titans took care of business in convincing fashion. It helps when you have Derrick Henry running over the entire defense. Henry racked up 215 yards rushing and two touchdowns. While many think of Henry as a power back, he has proven throughout his NFL career that he is an effective outside runner as well. The Titans might have another budding superstar as well. A.J. Brown made one of the best catches of the season with one-handed touchdown grab. He went over 100 yards receiving as well. Tennessee benefitted from facing some terrible quarterback play, so it is hard to truly evaluate how the defense fared. Just know that the Titans’ defense is going to need to step up against better competition as well.

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14. Arizona Cardinals: 7-6 (Last Week: 16)
Won 26-7 at New York
Where did that pass rush come from? Arizona entered the weekend with solid production from its pass rush, ranking in the top half of the league. Sunday took that to a whole new level. The Cardinals sacked Giants’ quarterbacks eight times, including a franchise-record five takedowns from Hasson Reddick. New York clearly had its struggles and this level of dominance is unlikely to be sustainable, but it is a positive sign for the defense. Kyler Murray has not been as electric since he sustained a shoulder injury against the Patriots. The defense is going to need to step up down the stretch for Arizona to reach the postseason.

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15. Washington: 6-7 (Last Week: 19)
Won 23-15 at San Francisco
This is exactly what we all expected, right? Washington leads the NFC East with a 6-7 record after reeling off back-to-back wins over the Steelers and 49ers. Ron Rivera’s crew also managed to win without scoring an offensive touchdown. In 2020, this is pretty much par for the course, especially for this division. Unfortunately, Alex Smith is dealing with a calf injury and could miss this week’s game against Seattle. That’s a really tough matchup at full strength, which means Washington’s outlook is rather bleak. However, Washington seems to find a way to win, even when it doesn’t make sense.

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16. New England Patriots: 6-7 (Last Week: 14)
Lost 24-3 at Los Angeles
For the first time since 2008, the Patriots will not win the AFC East. With their dismal loss to the Rams and the Bills’ victory over the Steelers, New England now has to hope for a miracle run at a wildcard spot. Those prospects are looking pretty slim as well. While the Patriots defense has actually held up pretty well despite all the absences this year, it is clear the offense needs some major turnover. The offensive line struggled on Thursday night and the Pats clearly have a need at quarterback as well. That doesn’t even cover the clear lack of talent at receiver. This is going to be a critical offseason for the Patriots as they truly looked to begin the post-Tom Brady era.

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17. San Francisco 49ers: 5-8 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 23-15 vs. Washington
This was a really tough loss for the 49ers. The defense managed to force Alex Smith out of the game, bringing out Dwayne Haskins. Washington managed a meager 95 yards passing and did not score an offensive touchdown. Sounds like a recipe for a San Francisco victory, but instead the 49ers lost by eight. Two defensive scores for Washington made the difference. It was a matter of the offense not being able to get out of its own way. If the 49ers had just taken care of the football, they would have won this game easily. That is much easier said than done, but this was a frustrating outcome that all but ends the 49ers’ playoff hopes.

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18. Minnesota Vikings: 6-7 (Last Week: 17)
Lost 26-14 at Tampa Bay
This was a tall task, but still a blow to the Vikings’ playoff chances nonetheless. Minnesota should have been a little closer if Dan Bailey could have made a few more kicks, he missed four, but even if he had made all of them, the Vikings still would have lost. While Bailey will take a lot of flack, the offensive line deserves a lot of blame as well. Minnesota actually moved the ball decently well, but had too many drives stall after costly sacks. The Vikings allowed Kirk Cousins to go down six times. It was a lackluster performance from a group that is on the fringes of the playoff conversation.

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19. New York Giants: 5-8 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 26-7 vs. Arizona
The high of knocking off the Seahawks wore off quickly. Daniel Jones played through a hamstring injury and probably wishes he spent the game on the bench instead. He was sacked six times and struggled as a passer. It was clear his lack of mobility limited him throughout the game. Colt McCoy finally came in, but it was far too late. The Giants managed just one scoring drive and fell behind Washington in the division race. The offensive line was atrocious on a day where it really could not afford to be. New York now faces a huge uphill climb.

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20. Las Vegas Raiders: 7-6 (Last Week: 21)
Lost 44-27 vs. Indianapolis
It was another week where the Raiders looked like pretenders, getting blown out for the second time in three weeks. Derek Carr did not have his best game as the offense sputtered. Las Vegas averaged just 3.6 yards per carry and committed three turnovers. The Raiders kept it close into the second half, but went down 44-20 in the fourth quarter after Khari Willis’ pick-six of Carr. A meaningless late touchdown made it look a bit more respectable. If Vegas does somehow limp into the postseason, don’t expect a deep run. This team has some major holes to fill and might need to consider a new direction starting in 2021.

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21. Denver Broncos: 5-8 (Last Week: 23)
Won 32-27 at Carolina
Drew Lock finally looked like the promising passer we saw at the end of last season. He tore up the Panthers for four touchdowns and 280 passing yards. He needed to be on fire as well with the defense giving up six yards per carry and three touchdowns. Strangely, the secondary held up despite missing its top three cornerbacks. It helped that the front seven came up with four sacks, but still an impressive showing under the circumstances.

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22. Carolina Panthers: 4-9 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 32-27 vs. Denver
This is not the type of post-bye week performance you would’ve hoped for from the Panthers. Carolina came out a little flat, finally coming alive in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, 17 fourth-quarter points were not enough to overcome the deficit. Most of the issues started on the defensive side of the ball though. Drew Lock carved up the Panthers’ secondary for four touchdowns and an average of 10.4 yards per attempt. Meanwhile, Teddy Bridgewater did his best to carry the offense without DJ Moore and Christian McCaffrey. There is not much else to play for this season, but Carolina still has chances to gain meaningful experience in these final few games. For such a young team with a new coaching staff, there are still chances to grow.

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23. Chicago Bears: 6-7 (Last Week 26)
Won 36-7 vs. Houston
Chicago bounced back and kept its playoff hopes alive with a crucial win. Perhaps even more importantly, the Bears snapped a six-game losing streak. The pressure that comes to end a skid like that is enormous, so this should provide some immediate relief. Beyond that, Chicago dominated this game. David Montgomery’s 80-yard touchdown run on the Bears’ offensive play was a sign of things to come. Mitchell Trubisky tossed three touchdown passes and the defense wreaked havoc all game long. Seven sacks, a safety and two forced fumbles is the type of outing we have been waiting for all season from this unit. Things just got way more interesting for the Bears heading into the final three weeks.

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24. Philadelphia Eagles: 4-8-1 (Last Week: 27)
Won 24-21 vs. New Orleans
Talk about a spark! Jalen Hurts took the keys to the offense and ran it really well, quite literally. Hurts’ running ability opened up so much for the Eagles, including an 82-yard touchdown run by Miles Sanders. Both finished with more than 100 yards on the ground. Hurts made a few key plays through the air and the defense played one of its best games of the season. While the playoffs are now a longshot for Philly, this is a good sign and makes the team much more fun to watch. Now, what to do about Carson Wentz’s contract….

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25. Dallas Cowboys: 4-9 (Last Week: 28)
Won 30-7 at Cincinnati
Andy Dalton had to feel pretty good about his return to Cincinnati. He tossed two touchdowns and protected the football en route to a big win. He got a ton of assistance from his defense. Dallas forced three fumbles in the contest and Aldon Smith even returned one for a touchdown. This team is still a mess, but it is nice to see the Cowboys play a complete game. Unfortunately, it might be too little, too late if this team is planning on making a run at the playoffs.

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26. Houston Texans: 4-9 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 36-7 at Chicago
This one stings a bit. The one thing Houston could hang its hat on was that they had the right quarterback to lead it into the future. That is absolutely still the case, but it turns out having a good supporting cast can make all the difference. Mitchell Trubisky clearly outplayed Deshaun Watson in this one, turning down the heat on Bears general manager Ryan Pace just a notch for the decision he made back in 2017. Without question, Watson still would’ve been the right pick, but the Bears made life very difficult for him. Watson was sacked six times and watched his teammates cough up the football twice. Needless to say, Watson some help.

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27. Detroit Lions: 5-8 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 31-24 vs. Green Bay
Reality set in for Darrell Bevell as his team came up short against Green Bay. Matt Stafford looked solid if unspectacular. He got very little help from his running game or defense. Aaron Rodgers had all day to pick apart the Detroit secondary. Meanwhile, the Lions finished with just 51 yards of rushing. Detroit is headed for one of the toughest offseasons of any team in the league. With a middling roster, no coach and an aging quarterback, this team could use an overhaul. On the bright side, they aren’t the Jets or Texans.

28. Los Angeles Chargers: 4-9 (Last Week: 29)
Won 20-17 vs. Atlanta
Los Angeles bounced back in a big way from the drubbing it took from New England the week before. The Chargers ground out a hard-fought victory, thanks in large part to the key takeaways on defense. Austin Ekeler looked like the lead back L.A. was hoping for all season, finishing with 148 yards from scrimmage. Anthony Lynn might have saved his job for another week with this win. It is not totally safe yet, but he is still employed right now.

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29. Atlanta Falcons: 4-9 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 20-17 at Los Angeles
Matt Ryan took another step closer to ending his tenure in Atlanta. Ryan cost the Falcons a chance to win this game on several occasions with three interceptions against the Chargers on Sunday. While it is pretty easy to just pin all the blame on Ryan for a disappointing loss, the lack of a run game is pretty significant as well. Atlanta has the third worst yards per carry average in the league after Week 14. Overall, the early magic that seemed to come from Raheem Morris taking over as the coach seems to have faded. The Falcons are still only two weeks removed from a 43-6 romp, but the 4-9 record speaks for itself. Keep in mind the Chargers were coming off a 45-0 loss the week before.

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30. Cincinnati Bengals: 2-10-1 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 30-7 vs. Dallas
Bengals fans might just want to stop watching games on Sundays and go watch Joe Burrow highlights for the rest of the season. For one, Burrow had an exciting start to his Bengals career and is a fun player to watch. Also, the Bengals stink without him. Brandon Allen did manage a touchdown, but it was a brutal game for the Cincinnati offense. Three lost fumbles and a 23-point blow out is always tough. Just remember that things will get better.

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31. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-12 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 31-10 vs. Tennessee
After a few weeks of competitive losses, the Jaguars resumed the roll of AFC South doormat. Derrick Henry quite literally ran over the Jacksonville defense for 200-plus yards. Even if the defense had shown up, it would not have mattered. The offense was lifeless, failing to get any real traction going. Facing a Titans’ defense that gave up 38 points in one half just a week ago, managed 10 total points in the game. On the bright side, Gardner Minshew and his fantastic mustache are back starting at quarterback starting next week.

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32. New York Jets: 0-13 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 40-3 at Seattle
Did you guys see that Marcus Maye interception? What a play! Oh yeah, the Jets lost by 37, but at least they had one positive highlight and didn’t get shutout! The bar is set sooooooo low for this team right now. Still waiting on that simulate to end of season button.

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2020 NFL Power Rankings: Week 14

Week 13 was WILD! The Steelers suffered their first loss of the season against Washington. The Giants, led by Colt McCoy, upended the Seahawks in Seattle. The Jets won a game! Then the Jets somehow lost that game on one of the most inexplicable play calls in NFL history. Gregg Williams was fired the next day by Adam Gase, who still has the power to make those decisions despite being 0-12 this season.

All in all, it was a bizarre weekend, one that shook up the whole NFL landscape. As we continue to roll on in December, there is still a ton to play for in every NFL game. The race for the No. 1 pick is still going strong, Kansas City and Pittsburgh are dueling for the top seed in the AFC and the NFC wildcard picture is still wide open!

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1. Kansas City Chiefs: 11-1 (Last Week: 2)
Won 22-16 vs. Denver
The champs are back on top! You could argue they never really left. Kansas City has had some small bumps in the road, including Sunday night’s win over Denver, but this is still the team to beat until someone knocks them out of the playoffs. Patrick Mahomes had a muted performance by his standards, only throwing for one touchdown. He still topped 300 yards though, which goes to show just how high he has set the bar for his level of play. The Broncos did expose one the Chiefs’ biggest weakness though as they gashed the defense for 179 yards on 5.4 yards per carry. If it wasn’t for the fact Drew Lock threw two interceptions, there is a good chance Denver would have won this game. It’s good to see KC grind out a win, but improving that run defense is a must as the weather gets colder.

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2. New Orleans Saints: 10-2 (Last Week: 3)
Won 21-16 at Atlanta
The Taysom Hill show continued in Week 13, this time featuring him showing out as a passer. Hill still did most of his damage on the ground, but with 232 yards and two touchdowns, this was his most complete performance yet. It was also nice to see Alvin Kamara more heavily featured. His usage had dropped since Hill took over at quarterback, but he had 88 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Kamara’s numbers in the passing game are still down, but Drew Brees should be back soon. Until Brees is back, it is clear the Saints are in very good hands between Hill and this stellar defense.

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3. Pittsburgh Steelers: 11-1 (Last Week: 1)
Lost 23-17 vs. Washington
They are popping champagne in Miami! The 1972 Dolphins can enjoy another year knowing they are still the only undefeated team in NFL history. In Pittsburgh, this was a major wakeup call. The Steelers have been getting by in recent weeks without playing their best football. That finally caught up to them. It is clear the offense needs to rethink its approach. The Steelers rank 29th in the league in rushing yards and dead last in yards per carry. For the fourth straight week, Ben Roethlisberger threw at least 46 passes and he passed Tom Brady for the most pass attempts in the league this year. That usage feels unsustainable for the Steelers. This is still a very good football team. Getting James Conner back should help and Pittsburgh still has every chance to win the AFC, but it needs to step up over this final stretch.

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4. Green Bay Packers: 9-3 (Last Week: 4)
Won 30-16 vs. Philadelphia
I feel like we might not talk about Davante Adams’ greatness enough. He is tied for the league lead in receiving touchdowns after catching two more against the Eagles. He has the size and speed to stretch the field, but the route running savvy and sticky hands of a great possession receiver. Oh, and he missed two games this season, which means that while he might not lead the league in receiving yards, he is the only receiver in the NFL averaging more than 100 per game. It helps to have Aaron Rodgers as your quarterback, but let’s not sell Adams short of his own merits. His performance has been first-team All-Pro worthy this year. In non-Adams related praise, Green Bay did a solid job battering Carson Wentz and limiting the Eagles’ rushing attack. This team has it’s flaws but is undoubtedly a Super Bowl contender.

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5. Buffalo Bills: 9-3 (Last Week: 5)
Won 34-17 at San Francisco
In a strange year, there might be nothing stranger than the success of the Buffalo Bills. I’m not questioning the Bills’ talent. This was a very good team on paper entering the year. However, it is the way Sean McDermott’s team is winning games that I find so interesting. In 2019, the Bills allowed the third-fewest yards per game and ranked second in scoring defense. The offense did just enough to get by, with Josh Allen looking way more dangerous as a runner than as a passer. 2020 has totally flipped the script. Buffalo’s defense has struggled in 2020, ranking 21st in yards per game and 18th in points per game. Offensively, the Bills have been fantastic. So far they are 10th in yards per game and 8th in scoring. Josh Allen has looked fantastic as a passer, compensating in many ways for the team’s inconsistent ground game. The arrival of Stefon Diggs no doubt helped, but Cole Beasley has stepped up as well. This team is a tough one to beat right now and seems to be improving. Monday night’s win over the 49ers showed how dominant the Bills can be on any given night.

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6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 7-5 (Last Week: 7)
Bye Week
Is this where the Buccaneers finally put all the pieces together? There are few rosters more talented than Tampa Bay’s, but the results have been mixed so far. Bruce Arians remains committed to throwing the ball 45-plus times per game despite Tom Brady’s struggles this year. Brady has had some vintage performances, but with the weather getting colder and a running back room with tons of depth, it might be time to tweak the approach a bit. A division title is basically out of the question at this point with Tampa needing to win out while New Orleans would need to finish 0-4 to make that happen. The Buccaneers should be focused on finishing strong and earning that top wildcard spot, inevitably setting up a matchup with whatever team limps to the NFC East title.

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7. Miami Dolphins: 8-4 (Last Week: 8)
Won 19-7 vs. Cincinnati
If it wasn’t for the fact that Mike Tomlin has the Steelers playing some phenomenal football on pretty much every day of the week, my (hypothetical) vote for Coach of the Year would definitely be going to Brian Flores. Beating the Bengals without Joe Burrow is not particularly impressive, but as we saw from Seattle, facing backup quarterbacks does not guarantee a victory. Miami’s defense forced two turnovers and held Cincinnati to 2.4 yards per carry. Outside of a blow coverage on Tyler Boyd’s 72-yard touchdown catch-and-run, it was a flawless performance from the defense. Tua Tagovailoa continues to settle in as the starter and the offense got a nice boost with Myles Gaskin returning. This team is going to be fun to watch grow down the stretch.

8. Los Angeles Rams: 8-4 (Last Week: 10)
Won 38-28 at Arizona
It was another solid win for the Jekyll and Hyde Rams. Los Angeles earned its eighth win of the season on Sunday, but this team has yet to win three games in a row in 2020. That is a bit of a concerning trend when you consider the Rams would likely have to win four straight to win a Super Bowl. The defense has rarely been the issue this year. Meanwhile, Jared Goff and the offense have been inconsistent. Against Arizona, Goff was locked in and the Rams’ running game was solid enough to get the job done. Troy Hill’s pick-six sealed the deal. L.A. is going to need this type of offensive performance on a weekly basis to be taken seriously as contenders.

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9. Seattle Seahawks: 8-4 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 17-12 vs. New York
After carrying the defense all season, it seems like Russell Wilson and the offense have fallen into a funk. The offensive line fell apart against the Giants, giving up five sacks. Seattle’s usually reliable passing game also came up short, producing just 262 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, the Seahawks likely could have won this game if they committed to the running game more. Wilson and Chris Carson combined for 110 yards on just 20 carries. The whole game plan was puzzling. Facing Colt McCoy, Seattle had no answer for the running game, despite facing very little threat of having the ball pushed downfield. New York averaged 6.1 yards per carry and racked up 191 yards on the ground. The coaching staff really dropped the ball, costing the Seahawks’ first place in the division.

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10. Cleveland Browns: 9-3 (Last Week: 13)
Won 41-35 at Tennessee
Which side of this Browns’ win do you want to focus on? The first half, where Cleveland battered Tennessee and led 38-7 at halftime? Or the second half, where the Browns took their foot off the gas and got outscored 28-3? It was a bit reminiscent of their Week 4 win over the Cowboys. It showcased Cleveland’s potential and flaws in two halves of the same game. Second-half performance aside, the Browns picked up a crucial win and now have a stranglehold on the AFC wildcard. Kevin Stefanski’s crew won over a lot of doubters with this performance. They will have a chance to win even more against the Ravens on Monday night.

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11. Indianapolis Colts: 8-4 (Last Week: 11)
Won 26-20 at Houston
It wasn’t too pretty, but Indianapolis picked up a pivotal divisional victory. Jonathan Taylor finally seemed to regain his early season form with a strong performance. T.Y. Hilton continues to turn back the clocks as well with another great showing. Phillip Rivers took care of the ball as well, which is a winning formula given how staunch this Colts defense has been in 2020. Despite all the impressive stat lines and boxes checked, Indy still nearly lost this game. If not for a bad snap on the Texans’ final drive, there is a good chance the Colts would have dropped another winnable game. Rather than worrying about what could have been, Frank Reich can focus on stealing the division from the Titans, whose loss to the Browns gives the Colts a share of the division lead.

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12. Tennessee Titans: 8-4 (Last Week: 9)
Lost 41-35 vs. Cleveland
The final scoreline does not indicate just how poorly the Titans played in this football game. Tennessee trailed 38-7 at halftime. Baker Mayfield put on a clinic for how to shred defenses. Cleveland also imposed its will on the Tennessee defense in the running game. Three turnovers ultimately undercut the Titans’ ability to stage a comeback. They deserve credit for dominating the second half and closing things down to a one-possession game Overall, this was a performance to forget for Mike Vrabel’s squad. Hopefully, the Titans are already on their way to putting this debacle behind them given how well they played in the second half.

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13. Baltimore Ravens: 7-5 (Last Week: 12)
Won 34-17 vs. Dallas
Beating the Cowboys does not erase the memories of the past few weeks, but it is a nice step forward. Lamar Jackson looked closer to the reigning MVP with 94 yards rushing and three total touchdowns. He still wasn’t the world beating player we saw last year, finishing with only 107 passing yards and an interception. Perhaps his passing totals were more of a byproduct of how successful the Ravens were running the football. Baltimore finished with just shy of 300 yards on the ground and averaged an absurd 7.9 yards per carry. If the Ravens can even come close to replicating that success against the Browns, this team will be back in business.

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14. New England Patriots: 6-6 (Last Week: 17)
Won 45-0 at Los Angeles
The Patriots might not be what they once were, but they are still a very solid football team. And Bill Belichick is one hell of a coach. It helped to face the struggling Chargers, but this was a decimation. This was Thanos with all six infinity stones level domination. The defense made life miserable for Justin Herbert and New England’s special teams came up with a bunch of big plays. Somehow, the Patriots managed 45 points in a game where Cam Newton threw for just 69 yards. The Pats still have a ways to go to make it back into the playoff race, but they have a chance now heading into the final quarter of the season.

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15. San Francisco 49ers: 5-7 (Last Week: 15)
Lost 34-17 vs. Buffalo
San Francisco continues to grind through everything 2020 can throw at them. It was a bit of a lopsided loss on Monday as the 49ers got doubled up by the Bills, but Kyle Shanahan’s side showed grit. A pair of Nick Mullens interceptions ultimately undermined what was a really strong performance from him. Unfortunately, the absences on the defense have reached a point where the team can no longer overcome them. Josh Allen lit up the 49ers’ secondary to the tune of 375 yards and four touchdowns. If not for a bad exchange between Allen and Zack Moss inside their own five yard line, this likely would have been a true blowout. Impressively, San Francisco is still in the playoff hunt, even if their chances took a big hit with this loss.

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16. Arizona Cardinals: 6-6 (Last Week: 14)
Lost 38-28 vs. Los Angeles
Arizona has the look of a young, inexperienced team that is struggling to adapt to the rigors of an NFL season. With a second-year quarterback, second-year head coach and a very young defense, there was always bound to be growing pains. After some-early season success, the Cardinals have settled into this middle of the road team where they belong. Kyler Murray still needs to learn how to take care of the football, committing two more turnovers on Sunday. He also averaged a meager 4.4 yards per attempt. This was a tough test against a talented Rams’ defense, but it highlighted the Cardinals’ clear room for improvement.

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17. Minnesota Vikings: 6-6 (Last Week: 18)
Won 27-24 vs. Jacksonville
Minnesota does not like to make things easy. One week after scraping by the Panthers in the final seconds, the Vikings needed overtime to finish off the Jaguars. Learning to win tight games is an important skill, but not playing down to your opponent is another one. The offense has room for improvement, but far from the problem. Mike Zimmer needs to whip his defense into shape. Giving up 24 points to a Mike Glennon-led offense is not a great look. They did intercept Glennon twice and force two fumbles, but still could not close things out in regulation. Things are going to get much tougher for Minnesota as it steps into the ring with Tampa Bay.

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18. New York Giants: 5-7 (Last Week: 22)
Won 17-12 at Seattle
Only in 2020 does Colt McCoy make his first start for the Giants and lead the team to a road victory over the Seahawks. That is probably giving McCoy too much credit. It was really the defense and running game that powered New York to a season-changing win. Wayne Gallman racked up 135 yards at 8.4 yards per carry to lead the way. The Giants’ defense forced two turnovers, sacked Russell Wilson five times and did a solid job in pass coverage. Considering that New York opened the season 0-5, this four-game winning shape is incredibly impressive. If Daniel Jones can get back on the field and the Giants can take care of the football, they are going to be a tough out every week.

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19. Washington: 5-7 (Last Week: 23)
Won 23-17 at Pittsburgh
Don’t sleep on Washington! This team has a new head coach, is on its third quarterback of the season and has a roster comprised of a lot of mostly unknown players. Probably their most notable player is their current quarterback, who has worked his way back from one of the most horrific injuries in sports history. What Alex Smith is doing is remarkable and it is his steady veteran leadership that Washington desperately needs right now. However, Washington’s defense is doing a lot of the heavy lifting. Holding the Steelers to 4.9 yards per play is pretty incredible. This is the type of scrappy play that could win Washington the division.

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20. Carolina Panthers: 4-8 (Last Week: 19)
Bye Week
While there are still some major questions surrounding this team, it is hard to argue that the Panthers’ outlook is worse than it was last year. The rebuilt defense is coming off two straight impressive showings. Teddy Bridgewater has played even better than I think most would have expected. If Christian McCaffrey had not struggled through a lost season due to injury, it is fair to wonder if Carolina would be in the playoff hunt right now. Instead, Matt Rhule is looking at a top-10 pick with a very tough decision to make. If a quarterback slides to them, will the front office grab its quarterback of the future, or look to build around Bridgewater? How the former first-round pick plays in these final four games will likely determine the answer to that question.

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21. Las Vegas Raiders: 7-5 (Last Week: 16)
Won 31-28 at New York
Say it with me: the Raiders are not a good football team. Jon Gruden’s squad seems to have found a solid game plan to compete with the Chiefs. Otherwise, this team has fed on bottom of the barrel teams and gotten blown out a few times. One week after a 43-6 drubbing against a four-win Falcons team, the Raiders were taken to the brink by the winless Jets. In fact, Las Vegas should not have won this game. If not for a truly head-scratching decision to leave a rookie undrafted corner in single coverage with Henry Ruggs, the Raiders would be a .500 team in a tailspin. There is a chance Vegas could correct some of these mistakes, but it seems like this team is just a pretender lucky to be in the playoff conversation.

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22. Atlanta Falcons: 4-8 (Last Week: 20)
Lost 21-16 vs. New Orleans
It was another tough loss to New Orleans, but Atlanta looked much more competitive than it did even a few weeks ago. At 4-8, the Falcons have to be thinking about their future. They have an interim head coach and general manager at the moment. They also have an aging roster featuring high-priced players like Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. These next four games offer plenty of opportunities for the front office to evaluate the entire roster and figure out what the best direction will be for the franchise. Do they stock up for one more run with Matt Ryan and company, or is it time to turn over the roster and think long-term rebuild.

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23. Denver Broncos: 4-8 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 22-16 at Kansas City
Denver’s defense looked sharp, limiting Patrick Mahomes and holding the Chiefs to just 22 points, but the story once again has to be Drew Lock’s struggles. After finishing 2019 with a 4-1 record as the starter, expectations were sky high for the Broncos. Lock was surrounded by tons of young talent and the defense looked like it was ready to bounce back. Injuries to Courtland Sutton and Von Miller definitely quieted some of the hype, but no one expected this. Lock has regressed to the inaccurate quarterback lacking confidence we saw during his senior year at Missouri. He trails only Carson Wentz in interceptions this season, but has three fewer games this year. His completion percentage is the worst in the league and Lock also has the highest interception rate of any qualified passer. It is too soon to give up on him after just 13 games in the NFL, but there are some major red flags here. Denver needs to find someone to help him develop this offseason.

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24. Houston Texans: 4-8 (Last Week: 26)
Lost 26-20 vs. Indianapolis
Houston came up just shy of a second impressive victory in a row. Deshaun Watson drove the offense right down the field and had the Texans in position to win the game, but a bad snap, and subsequent fumble recovered by the Colts, ended their drive two yards short. It was nice to see Houston put up that much of a fight the same week it lost Will Fuller and Bradley Roby for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs. The Texans are still the NFL’s equivalent of a rudderless ship, but Watson keeps them competitive no matter how bad his supporting cast is.

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25. Detroit Lions: 5-7 (Last Week: 28)
Won 34-30 at Chicago
The Darrell Bevell era got off to a good start as the Lions earned a solid win over the division-rival Bears. Matt Stafford stepped up with some of his top targets out, throwing for 402 yards and three touchdowns in a winning effort. As he so often does, he stepped up in the fourth quarter and led two touchdown-scoring drives to earn the victory. I think there is very little chance Bevell will be given a chance to be the next head coach in Detroit, but he definitely didn’t hurt his chances.

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26. Chicago Bears: 5-7 (Last Week 21)
Lost 34-30 vs. Detroit
Down Kenny Golladay or D’Andre Swift, coming off a huge loss on Thanksgiving and having just fired their coach, this was the perfect time for the Bears to face the Lions. Or so it seemed. We briefly forgot Chicago’s propensity to take favorable situations and fumble them away. It was a weird battle of futility in which the Bears managed to blow a 10-point fourth quarter lead. It truly seems like Matt Nagy’s days in Chicago are numbered. That 5-1 start feels like it might as well have been a decade ago, and that’s not just because 2020 has made this year feel like at least 27 crammed into one. If Nagy cannot end this six-game skid soon, he will certainly be gone.

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27. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-8-1 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 30-16 at Green Bay
Is the Carson Wentz era over in Philadelphia? It has been temporarily put on hold at the very least. Jalen Hurts will start in Week 14 against the Saints. It is hard to argue with that too. This has been a lost season for the Eagles. Injuries decimated this roster across the board. Poor drafting in recent years also showed up big time as those injuries exposed how little depth this team really has. No, Wentz does not deserve all of the blame for the Eagles’ struggles this year, but he has definitely been part of the problem. Sunday was another disappointing showcase of how much this team struggles on offense with him at quarterback. Wentz avoided turnovers, but completed just six of 15 passes for 79 yards and was sacked four times. Philly trailed by 17 points when he was pulled. There is a way back for Wentz, and the Eagles better hope he finds it given his contract situation.

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28. Dallas Cowboys: 3-9 (Last Week: 29)
Lost 34-17 at Baltimore
Dallas is hurtling towards a top-five pick after yet another loss. Andy Dalton was solid again, but an early deficit put too much pressure on him. The Cowboys were forced away from the ground game as Dalton finished with 48 pass attempts. That deficit grew mainly due to Dallas’ inability to stop the run. Baltimore rushed for nearly 300 yards and finished with 7.9 yards per attempt. That’s more yards per attempt than most team average passing! It is looking more and more likely this team just hits the reset button at the end of the year. Mike McCarthy genuinely could be gone after just one year.

29. Los Angeles Chargers: 3-9 (Last Week: 25)
Lost 45-0 vs. New England
This was a total meltdown in every phase of the game. Anthony Lynn’s seat was already probably a bit warm, now it is scorching hot. I am actually a little surprised he was not fired on Monday. It was a rough game for Justin Herbert and the offense. He tossed two interceptions and averaged 3.9 yards per attempt. Los Angeles also gave up two special teams touchdowns. Overall, it might be best if the Chargers just throw out this game tape and reset themselves for the rest of the season.

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30. Cincinnati Bengals: 2-9-1 (Last Week: 30)
Lost 19-7 at Miami
Life without Joe Burrow continues to be extremely tough for the Bengals. The combination of Brandon Allen and Ryan Finley for just 193 yards passing. Cincinnati’s offensive line also gave up six sacks. The Bengals defense actually looked pretty sharp, holding the Dolphins to just one touchdown. This season has been a humbling reminder of how tough it can be to even be an average team in the NFL and that rebuilds often take a few years. Thankfully, the Bengals are in prime position to draft Penei Sewell in the upcoming draft to help shore up the offensive line.

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31. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-11 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 27-24 at Minnesota
Jacksonville easily has one of the three worst rosters in the NFL, but it is finding ways to be much more competitive than many would expect on a week-to-week basis. The Jaguars took the Vikings to overtime, overcoming four turnovers to keep this game close. Losing close is pretty much the best-case scenario for the Jags though as it means they stay in the race for the number one pick. It still allows them to fairly evaluate the rest of the roster to see which young players are worth keeping around for the future.

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32. New York Jets: 0-12 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 31-28 vs. Las Vegas
I have run out words for this team. Where is the simulate to the end of season button?

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2020 NFL Power Rankings: Week 12

Tis the season for major rankings shake ups. Hot streaks were snapped for the Dolphins and Vikings. Playoff hopes took a hit for the Patriots and Eagles. Meanwhile, the Ravens continue to struggle with an identity crisis as their postseason dreams fade and the Lions forgot how to score heading into Thanksgiving.

Needless to say, it is hard to feel quite as excited about the Thanksgiving Day slate of games as we usually would given the rising cases of the coronavirus across the country. That means this year we will be faced with much smaller gatherings, forced to see loved ones through computer screens and likely missing out on many of our usual traditions.

It has been a hard year for all of us, so I just want to take a chance to say thank you to everyone who reads this. It is a very useful outlet for me to feel productive in this ridiculous time. It is also a distraction from all of the real world issues we all face on a daily basis. I know that is a dangerous thing to ignore the social injustice and public health crisis going on around us, but I also know it is healthy to find a release that allows you to return to those much more serious and pressing issues with a renewed sense of energy.

So this holiday season, more than ever, I am thankful for my health. I am thankful for my family and friends who continue to support me and keep me sane. And, as always, I am thankful for football.

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1. Pittsburgh Steelers: 10-0 (Last Week: 1)
Won 27-3 at Jacksonville
The target on Pittsburgh’s back continues to grow. Having won 10 straight, the Steelers are winning games in different ways each week. Chase Claypool, Benny Snell Jr. and Eric Ebron each found the end zone. Defensively, Pittsburgh bent, but never broke. Four interceptions of Jake Luton made life very easy on the offense and kept the Jaguars out of the end zone. The intensity will escalate quickly with a desperate Ravens team visiting on Thanksgiving night. The Steelers could just about wrap up the division with a win.

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2. Kansas City Chiefs: 9-1 (Last Week: 2)
Won 35-31 at Las Vegas
There is clearly something tricky for the Chiefs when it comes to facing the Raiders. Patrick Mahomes struggled in the first half, throwing an interception just before halftime. Kansas City’s offense found its footing in the second half, but the defense never seemed to get on track. Derek Carr tore up the secondary for three touchdowns and 8.9 yards per attempt. The Chiefs will be happy to move on with a win and avenge their one loss off the season, but this is not a team that Kansas City will want to see a third time.

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3. New Orleans Saints: 8-2 (Last Week: 4)
Won 24-9 vs. Atlanta
Who needs Drew Brees? Apparently not Sean Payton, who picked up his sixth win over the past two years while starting a backup quarterback. While it wasn’t always pretty, Taysom Hill also validated Payton’s faith in him. While he was most impactful as a runner, Hill was highly effective as a passer. Completing 18-of-23 passes for 10.1 yards per attempt is more than good enough for the Saints to win games. It helped that the defense stepped up big time, intercepting Matt Ryan twice and limiting the Falcons to just 52 yards rushing. New Orleans also sacked Ryan eight times as Atlanta never reached the end zone. It might be a bit of an unconventional approach, but the Saints are still going to be a very tough team to beat.

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4. Green Bay Packers: 7-3 (Last Week: 3)
Lost 34-31 at Indianapolis
Green Bay led 28-14 at halftime, then proceeded to score just three points between the second half and overtime. Turnovers killed the Packers and most were self inflicted. A botched snap on the first drive cost Green Bay points. Aaron Rodgers got greedy and forced a pass to Davante Adams that was intercepted. Indy’s field goal to take the lead was set up by a Packers fumble on the kickoff return. Then of course, Marquez Valdes-Scantling coughed it up on the second play of overtime to set up the Colts’ winning field goal. Sloppy mistakes cost the team a chance at a road win against one of the AFC’s top teams. Now, the Packers are looking up at the Saints and Seahawks in the standings.

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5. Buffalo Bills: 7-3 (Last Week: 8)
Bye Week
Buffalo got a week off to put the heartbreak of last week’s loss behind them. That was made significantly easier by watching the Cardinals lose their next game. The Bills also now enjoy a full-game lead in the division thanks to a loss by the Dolphins and the Patriots shrink further into the background after they lost as well. In a season that seems to lack too many dominant teams, I don’t know that Buffalo is going to fill the void, but it sure has an opportunity it can take advantage of.

6. Los Angeles Rams: 7-3 (Last Week: 14)
Won 27-24 at Tampa Bay
Los Angeles is flying under the radar, but at 7-3, the Rams lead the NFC West and hold the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoff race. Jared Goff is spreading the ball around and getting it out quickly. Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods went off on the Buccaneers secondary. This offense still has the tendency to disappear too often, but the top-end potential of this team is a Super Bowl champion. If this defense continues to play at this high of a level, the Rams are going to be very tough to knock out in the postseason.

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7. Seattle Seahawks: 7-3 (Last Week: 11)
Won 28-21 vs. Arizona
For the first time all season, Seattle’s defense showed up to play. The addition of Carlos Dunlap paid some major dividends on Thursday night, coming up with the game-winning sack on Kyler Murray. Holding the Cardinals to just 21 points is actually a pretty big accomplishment. Without question, the Seahawks’ defense is still a weakness for this team. Seattle needs a performance like that to occur a bit more frequently to really look the part of a complete team.

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8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 7-4 (Last Week: 5)
Lost 27-24 vs. Los Angeles
Another primetime game and another failed test for the Buccaneers against a playoff contender. Tom Brady threw a pair of interceptions, including one on Tampa Bay’s final drive of the game trailing by three. He got very little help from his running game. The Bucs rushed for just 42 yards and 2.3 yards per carry as everything fell on Brady to create down the stretch. Tampa’s run defense did it’s job almost before hitting the field. Los Angeles kept throwing the ball, but it was a masterclass in route running and offensive scheming. This is a close loss to a good team, but those will end your season in January.

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9. Indianapolis Colts: 7-3 (Last Week: 12)
Won 34-31 vs. Green Bay
Sunday was a statement win for the Colts. The Titans had been the only decent team Indianapolis had beaten all season up to this point. Losses to the Ravens, Browns and Jaguars definitely made it hard to trust the Colts as well. The defense did catch a few breaks, but making opportunistic plays is crucial to winning football games. Still, it is unlikely any of Indy’s opponents will commit four turnovers again any time soon. There was an air of good fortune surrounding this win, but Indy needs to take the lucky break and build momentum from it heading into the home stretch of what looks to be a very tight divisional race.

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10. Miami Dolphins: 6-4 (Last Week: 6)
Lost 20-13 at Denver
Well, that certainly took the wind out of Miami’s sails. Riding high on a five-game win streak, the Dolphins were bullied by a much more physical Broncos team. Tua Tagovailoa was sacked six times and eventually benched. He finished with just 83 yards passing. The Dolphins defense made just enough big plays to give Ryan Fitzpatrick a chance, but he threw a game-ending interception in the end zone on Miami’s final drive. To be that close is impressive given how thoroughly the ‘Fins were outplayed. Denver ran for 189 yards at 5.7 yards per carry and Drew Lock was averaging nine yards per attempt. It was a humbling reality check for Brian Flores’ squad.

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11. Arizona Cardinals: 6-4 (Last Week: 7)
Lost 28-21 at Seattle
It was a bit of an off week for the Cardinals. Perhaps, Arizona had a bit of a letdown following an emotional win the week before. DeAndre Hopkins hauled in that ridiculous Hail Mary. Kyler Murray had a muted performance by his standards. The Cardinals entered Week 11 as the league’s top rushing team. Arizona finished with just 57 yards, more than 100 yards below its season average. This team is still on the rise, but the Cardinals took a major hit in the division standings.

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12. Las Vegas Raiders: 6-4 (Last Week: 13)
Lost 35-31 vs. Kansas City
No team has been able to challenge the Chiefs this year. No team other than the Raiders that is (and maybe the Panthers, weirdly enough.) Las Vegas took Kansas City to the wire, making Patrick Mahomes look mortal doing so. Derek Carr played nearly flawless. The interception on Vegas’ final drive put a damper on his outing, but the Raiders were in a pretty bleak situation before that play ever occurred. If nothing else, it shows that the biggest threat to the Chiefs returning to the Super Bowl might just be Jon Gruden’s squad.

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13. Tennessee Titans: 7-3 (Last Week: 14)
Won 30-24 at Baltimore
While maybe not as impressive a win as it would have seemed a few weeks ago, Tennessee bounced back nicely against Baltimore. Ryan Tannehill looked sharp and A.J. Brown looked damn near unstoppable at times. If that wasn’t good enough, Derrick Henry pulled off some late-game magic and Corey Davis went over 100 yards receiving again. The most impressive performance of the day though came from the Titans’ defense. Holding the Ravens to 3.9 yards per carry and containing Lamar Jackson was crucial. This was around the time last year that everything seemed to click for the Titans, so if this team can rediscover some of its 2019 magic, look out.

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14. Baltimore Ravens: 6-4 (Last Week: 9)
Lost 30-24 vs. Tennessee
What is wrong with the Ravens? The offense that dominated every team it faced a year ago looks lost. Lamar Jackson has dropped off a cliff. Baltimore’s offense is struggling to get receivers open and the offensive line is incredibly banged up. Now, Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins are out after testing positive for COVID-19 on Thanksgiving against the Steelers. Baltimore is running out of time to turn things around. A loss to Pittsburgh would put the Ravens’ playoff hopes in serious jeopardy.

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15. Cleveland Browns: 7-3 (Last Week: 15)
Won 22-17 vs. Philadelphia
The marriage between Kevin Stefanski and the Browns’ offense feels like a perfect match. Stefanski wants to establish the run and use it to take the pressure off his defense and his quarterback. With both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt healthy, it is hard to find a way to stop that duo. Even though Hunt struggled running the ball against Philadelphia, Chubb rumbled for over 100 yards. Baker Mayfield didn’t exactly play well, but he avoided making too many mistakes. The defense came up with big plays when needed. Cleveland still does not really scare too many opposing teams, but it continues to grind out wins.

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16. Carolina Panthers: 4-7 (Last Week: 20)
Won 20-0 vs. Detroit
Shoutout to P.J. Walker. In August of 2019, the Colts waived their former undrafted free-agent signing and added him to their practice squad. This past spring, Walker starred for the Houston Roughnecks in the XFL. On Sunday, Walker made his first NFL start and led the Panthers to a win. In addition to Walker, Carolina’s defense deserves a lot of credit for snapping this five-game losing streak. The Panthers join the Dolphins as the only teams to register a shutout this season. It was a big step in the right direction for a very young defense, holding Detroit to just 185 yards of offense. If this is what Carolina can do without Teddy Bridgewater and Christian McCaffrey, I’m excited to see them at full strength.

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17. Chicago Bears: 5-5 (Last Week 19)
Bye Week
Like it has for pretty much the entire season, Chicago enters Week 12 with a question mark at quarterback. That’s a really bad place to be heading into a matchup with an angry Aaron Rodgers. Both Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles are dealing with injuries. Even healthy, neither has been very good this year. Chicago’s only other option is Tyler Bray. It’s not like this is a new problem, but if the Bears have any hope of salvaging what is left in their season, they need someone to step up at quarterback.

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18. Denver Broncos: 4-6 (Last Week: 22)
Won 20-13 vs. Miami
Well, I did not see this coming. Namely because I picked the Dolphins in my survivor pool. The Broncos were fresh off a blowout loss to the Raiders and hosting one of the hottest teams in the NFL. On Sunday though, Denver looked like the ’85 Bears. The Broncos racked up six sacks and Justin Simmons came up with the game-sealing interception of Ryan Fitzpatrick in the end zone. Yes, this defense played so well, it forced the Dolphins to bench their rookie quarterback. Offensively, Denver moved the ball well, but definitely could have come away with a few more points. It is hard to figure out how the team that averaged nine yards per pass and 5.7 yards per run managed just 20 points. Still, the Broncos will be happy to take the win and show some of the potential many saw entering the season.

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19. San Francisco 49ers: 4-6 (Last Week: 21)
Bye Week
I don’t know that a team has ever needed a bye week more than the 49ers did. Coming off the break, there is some optimism that Deebo Samuel, Tevin Coleman and Jerrick McKinnon all return to action in Week 12. That won’t solve all that ails this team, but considering that Kyle Shanahan had next to no offensive weapons to work with last time out, that trio returning will be a welcome improvement. San Francisco faces a tough matchup with Los Angeles. The Rams have won against the Seahawks and Buccaneers in back-to-back weeks. If 2020 has taught us anything though, it is to never rule out anything. Except maybe the Jets winning a game.

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20. Minnesota Vikings: 4-6 (Last Week: 16)
Lost 31-28 vs. Dallas
Minnesota’s recovery tour just went off the rails. A loss at home to Dallas was definitely not part of this script. The Vikings missed a golden opportunity to get to .500 and put pressure on the Cardinals for the final playoff spot. Instead, they fell two games back in the playoff chase and will potentially miss Adam Thielen after he was played on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Minnesota has been dealing with inexperience and absences on defense all year. Those issues showed up in critical moments down the stretch as Andy Dalton piloted a game-winning drive. There is still a chance for the Vikings to rebound, but this feels like a big blow to their postseason hopes.

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21. New England Patriots: 4-6 (Last Week: 17)
Lost 27-20 at Houston
Just when it seems like the Patriots had finally turned the corner, they lay an egg against the hapless Texans. Up to this point, Houston had not beaten anyone other than Jacksonville. Unfortunately for New England, Deshaun Watson broke out his Superman cape en route to a ridiculous performance. The Pats’ defense had no answer for him, even with Stephon Gilmore back in the fold. All season, I have made excuses for this team lacking the depth or top-end talent it was used to having due to opt outs or injuries. Those issues did not go away, but New England let them take over again on Sunday. This is a setback I don’t know if the Patriots can recover from.

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22. Atlanta Falcons: 3-7 (Last Week: 18)
Lost 24-9 at New Orleans
Even without Drew Brees, the Falcons’ defense could not stop the Saints. While that was true, it was the offense that was even more disappointing. Matt Ryan had an abysmal game. He also spent much of it picking himself off the ground. New Orleans’ defense sacked Ryan eight times in the contest. In addition to not pass block, Atlanta’s offensive line did not run block either. The Falcons front office has invested draft picks, cap space and time to building an offensive line, but until that finally gets fixed, this team is going nowhere.

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23. New York Giants: 3-7 (Last Week: 25)
Bye Week
Don’t look now, but the Giants might just be rounding into form. I know that statement doesn’t usually apply to a 3-7 team, but New York designated both Xavier McKinney and Oshane Ximines for return from the IR this week. Those two could be real difference makers on a defense that has been surprisingly good this year. It doesn’t solve Daniel Jones’ terrible decision making at quarterback, but hopefully it means he will be asked to do less. The Giants have a tough final six games, but they might just be able to grind out a division title.

24. Los Angeles Chargers: 3-7 (Last Week: 26)
Won 34-28 vs. New York
It was ugly and fittingly weird, but the Chargers finally snapped their losing streak. Justin Herbert put on a showcase, albeit against a bad Jets defense. Keenan Allen balled out as well, finishing with 16 catches for 145 yards and a touchdown. The running game was a bit of a red flag, picking up 29 yards on 26 carries. There is some speculation that Austin Ekeler could return soon though, which would be a huge boost down the stretch. Los Angeles still has a ton of question marks left to answer before this team is ready to compete, but there is no question it has its franchise quarterback.

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25. Washington: 3-7 (Last Week: 28)
Won 20-9 vs. Cincinnati
I don’t care which team you are a fan of, it is good to see Alex Smith win a football game. He actually took a backseat to the running game and defense, but Washington looked in control throughout the game. Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin continue to shine. The front seven looks pretty dynamic as well. With a veteran quarterback and a defensive line capable of generating pressure without blitzing, Washington might just have the pieces in place to run the table. Stranger things have happened and this team is right in the thick of the NFC East race.

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26. Philadelphia Eagles: 3-6-1 (Last Week: 24)
Lost 22-17 at Cleveland
I am running out of excuses for Carson Wentz. Sure, he doesn’t have a great supporting cast, but he is just playing bad football right now. Maybe it is because he has been sacked on a higher percentage of his dropbacks than any quarterback in the league that he is pressing. Still, Wentz leads the league in turnovers by a wide margin. OK, so maybe I’m not totally done making excuses for Wentz, but come on, he is being hung out to dry every week. Philly needs to find a way to protect him and take some of the pressure off. Running the ball a bit more seems like a good place to start. Despite yet another brutal loss, the Eagles have not done anything that cannot be undone. This team somehow still controls its playoff destiny in the worst division maybe ever.

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27. Houston Texans: 3-7 (Last Week: 29)
Won 27-20 vs. New England
On one hand, I want to focus on the greatness of Deshaun Watson. It has unquestionably been overlooked this year in a lost season for the Texans. His playmaking skills were on full display as he threw for 344 yards, tossed two touchdowns and added another one on the ground. On the other hand, please someone get this man some help! Watson led the team in rushing with just 36 yards. He lost his top receiver this offseason in one of the worst trades ever. His starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil was out with an illness. Despite all of that, he was great. With no first-round pick, Houston has no incentive to tank. It can just sit back and watch Watson go off for now, perhaps while designing some offseason plans to rebuild his supporting cast.

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28. Detroit Lions: 4-6 (Last Week: 22)
Lost 20-0 at Carolina
In general, you don’t really want to share any of the same accomplishments as the Jets. That is especially true this season, but Detroit joins New York as the only teams to be shutout this season. I know that Matthew Stafford is not at 100 percent and the Lions were missing Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola, but come on. Nothing? This is a Panthers’ defense starting four rookies, with about three more that see significant playing time. Carolina does not have one of the league’s top defenses, yet Detroit was completely stymied. On top of all that, I lost my fantasy matchup this week because I started Matt Prater, who got me -1 points.

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29. Dallas Cowboys: 3-7 (Last Week: 30)
Won 31-28 at Minnesota
The Red Rifle returns! Andy Dalton made his triumphant comeback with a three-touchdown performance, leading Dallas to victory in the process. He was far from flawless, but stepped up when his team needed him to late in the game. Ezekiel Elliott finally broke out of his slump, topping the century mark rushing and adding a receiving touchdown. With every team sitting at three wins in the division, Dallas controls its own destiny just as much as any of them. A healthy Dalton definitely gives them the best chance to win this wonky division and make an improbable playoff appearance.

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30. Cincinnati Bengals: 2-7-1 (Last Week: 27)
Lost 20-9 at Washington
Sunday was hard to watch for Bengals fans. Joe Burrow continued to battle despite his pourous offensive line. He was ultimately carted off with a knee injury that turned out to be a torn ACL and MCL with additional structural damage. There is no positive way to spin this one. Given the extent of the injury, Burrow’s status for the 2021 season is already in doubt. Cincinnati was not going to be winning the AFC North any time soon, but this is a major blow to the team’s rebuild and a gut punch to a franchise that finally felt like it had begun to turn the corner. Here’s hoping that Burrow will make a full recovery as soon as possible.

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31. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-9 (Last Week: 31)
Lost 27-3 vs. Pittsburgh
So, maybe Jake Luton isn’t the answer at quarterback either. It might seem a little harsh to make that assessment after facing the Steelers’ defense, but four interceptions, 4.1 yards per attempt and a completion percentage below 50 are bad no matter how good the opposing defense is. James Robinson continues to make his case for Rookie of the Year, but the wide margin made it hard for the Jaguars to stay committed to the ground game. It is hard to find too many positives in a 24-point loss, but at least several two-win teams around the league won this week, strengthening the Jags chances as a top-five draft pick.

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32. New York Jets: 0-10 (Last Week: 32)
Lost 34-28 at Los Angeles
The Jets tank job for Trevor Lawrence stretched into its 10th week. New York became the first team eliminated from the playoffs, meaning fans can now start studying mock drafts until next April (as if we haven’t already been doing that since Week 3.) At least this week was entertaining. Breshad Perriman hauled in a long touchdown pass and the ageless wonder Frank Gore found the end zone as well. Still, I’ve just reached the point where it is hard to find any joy in watching this team any more.
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